About the Author

Jennifer is an artist living in rural Nebraska with her US Army veteran husband. She loves to create and seeks to reflect the beauty of Christ and encourage others in meaningful, beautiful ways. You can find her and see more of her art on Studio JRU.

Recent Posts

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Wow, this blew me away. My mom underwent surgery, too, due to brain aneurysm and I know how it is. Both my parents are not yet believers and we’ve had squabbles and misunderstandings when they knew that I, in their words, “changed religion.” We’ve had rough times.

    I’m now married and I am starting to see them through God’s lens. I now understand their reaction and the pain that they–as parents–had to go through, when they learned about me–their daughter–changing her faith when they though that they brought me up well in their church. I now understand them better and by God’s grace, able to love them more. And I’m hoping and praying hard that in their lifetime, (nah, this year!) they will come to know of Jesus and accept Him as their personal Lord and Savior. :))

    Right now, I am partnering with my husband in our Youth Ministry and we’ve received second-hand information of church members talking behind our backs, criticizing us for teaching and making a big deal out of the Biblical principle of unequal yoking. I so much desire they would just confront us personally so they can see/hear our side/explanation. 🙁 Nonetheless, I pray that all the pain and hurt of their words (spoken behind our backs) will go away.

    • Thank you for sharing your heart with us, Zusabel. I pray your parents are able to see God through you. It is beautiful that God has given you the grace to understand them better. I pray you are able to work out the issues with your church in a non-hurtful way. Praying these people will listen and hear you.

  2. Thank you, Jen, for selflessly sharing your story and for generously sharing the printable. :)) We’re renting out a new space and this will go framed and displayed in our small living room, Lordwilling :))

  3. Jen, I needed to hear your words today. There’s a situation where I need a new lens. Thank you for sharing this and the printable. Beautiful.

  4. Zusabel, my heart is heavy for you this morning. I am praying that your parents would see Jesus in you, and desire Him too. My parents, too, are kinda fighting against religion and Christ. They believe but they do not attend church or fellowship with other believers. But, my hope is that they will see Christ in me and want Him in their lives… I know He is working in their lives, and I have to trust His timing!

  5. Jen,
    Amen, Jen!! You and your husband are fortunate to have each other…praying blessings over you both. And, yes, I have experienced many things in life that have made me a much more compassionate person ie: depression, anxiety, infidelity, divorce, and the list goes on. I wrote a post about behind every door there is a story. The story is not for us to judge, but for us to love and have compassion for those living that particular story. May we all not have to actually walk a mile in others’ shoes in order to love them like Christ loves them. What a beautiful and personal post this morning! Thank you so much for sharing…
    Blessings,
    Bev

    • Thank you so much for your encouragement and prayers, Bev. Love your thoughts that behind every door is a story. You are so right, we don’t need to walk that mile to love them. So true, so true.

  6. Absolutely beautiful post, Jennifer. Though I have not been through what you have been through, your words struck close to home as I often feel the same way about people who misunderstand our family before getting to know us. My son has autism and my daughter has needs as well. We march to the beat of a different drum and I often pray that others will come to understand that while my son “looks normal” on the outside, he is complicated on the inside. And that is what makes him beautiful. I want others to know him, to truly see him for the miracle and wonder he is, but they have to look beneath the surface with a compassionate lens. Thank you for sharing these beautiful words. I certainly will be sharing them with others!

    • Oh I can imagine how difficult that must be, Katie. Marching to the beat of a different drum… God’s special plan for your family. I pray that others see the wonder he is and love with compassion. Thank you so much for sharing your story!

  7. Jen,
    I want to echo Bev’s words to you– What a beautiful and personal post! Such a great reminder that each soul has a story of which only God know the full details. Thank you!
    In Him,
    Kim

  8. This was so sweet. And such a humbling reminder of the proper way to treat my own husband. I love how fiercely protective you are of him. He’s so blessed to have you.

  9. THANK YOU!!!! You put my thoughts into beautiful, insightful and honest words. I too survived an aneurysm. Mine was on my ascending aorta and was so large (bigger than my surgeons fist) that my entire ascending aorta was removed and replaced with a conduit ending in a mechanical aortic valve. Since the surgery I have suffered two strokes which have impacted my long/short term memory and my ability to recall words. I often have to stop mid-sentence to search for a word that once would have just ‘rolled off my tongue’. I see the looks. I hear those around me try and finish my sentences to ease my embarrassment and I see the hurt in the eyes of the individual I recognize but cannot remember from where or what their name is. I want to constantly apologize for who I am NOW. I want to explain but very few stick around long enough to listen. Instead I am accused of being ‘drugged out’ or drunk or both. I continue to work as a Social Worker with the aged and disabled and find an amazing amount of support from those who are not in a hurry for me to finish a sentence so that I can leave and a new sense of appreciation and empathy for the individuals who face struggles similar to my own. I’ve caught myself telling my own family that I wish they could spend a day in my shoes or that I wish they could experience my physical pain and bone numbing fatigue for just an afternoon so that they could really understand but this should not be necessary. As you stated, we should love because HE loved. We should love because we are ALL made in HIS image. Thank you most of all for reminding me that I am not alone in my struggles that perhaps only HE sees.

    • What a story you have, Susan. It hurts my heart to read you want to apologize for who you are now. You are special. You are made in His image. He has a plan for you. You are blessing those incredible people you work with. You are not alone. Thank you so much for sharing your story!

  10. Jennifer, I needed this reminder today. Behind every person is a precious soul that God created and He is intimately aware of their story.
    Blessings to you.

  11. Thank you for your post today. God bless you and your family. We are dealing with agressive grade 4 brain cancer in our 50 yr old daughter. She has had surgery that only removed 2/3 of it. She starts radiation along with a chemo pill in a couple days. She has trouble walking and has had some seizures, which are currently under control with meds. Would appreciate your prayers. She has a 23 yr old daughter who graduated from Cedarville U and a son who will be a junior at Indiana Wesleyan. They are Christians but need much prayer during this hard time. Thank you.
    Joyce

    • Joyce,

      Prayers for you and your family! May God heal your daughter and give her life back to you all! May He comfort you all and give you all the peace and contentment you all need and deserve!

      My heart goes out to you and the children!! 🙂

  12. {Melinda} Jennifer, this is a beautiful post … I can feel your heart. I also understand quite vividly what you are talking about. My son has cystic fibrosis, I have some very painful autoimmune issues. No one can “see” them. We look quite healthy. However, no one can see what it takes each day behind the scenes to keep going. The pain that is hidden. I completely understand what you mean by changing your lens. I ask God to help me show a tremendous amount of grace toward others — I just don’t know what they may be going through.

    • When our ‘behind the scenes’ is so difficult, it really does change how we see things doesn’t it? God gifts us with that grace and compassion because we know. And because we know and have that special lens, I think we can make a great difference to people who need to see the glimmer of hope and love. Thank you, Melinda. Praying for the strength your family needs.

  13. Thanks, I love your free print outs, I keep them framed and displayed in my home. Your story really hits home because EVERYONE has scars that cannot be seen and I have been practicing to be compassionate towards others. It isn’t easy…thanks again and may God Bless and Keep You.

  14. This really resonated with me today!! After living with several chronic illnesses. My illnesses are invisible to others, so therefore I have been questioned, doubted, and have had so much lack of understanding. It’s hard to have to live daily with my disability, but others not understanding, is sometimes my biggest hurdle. I have been changed for the better, as now, I have more compassion and love for others because of my own struggle. I pray that God will continue to use my illness to reach out to others who need love and understanding.

    • And maybe if we can find that shred of good through the struggles of illness… that we are changed for the better, that we can be loving and compassionate. Thank you for sharing, Kim. Praying for you!

  15. I always forget about my scars until I go to the salon and all of a sudden they become a conversation piece. I let them see the strength that it has brought me and how I’m not ashamed of the ugly scar – I’m sure butterflies coming out of the cocoon leave a scar on it from emerging too. Feels like hell when you’re in it, but the strength and courage that comes after is amazing.

  16. I love your story. I can relate in many ways to it. So many times we don’t realize at first glance what a person has gone thru. A lot of it cannot be seen with the naked eye. I have not had the extent of what your husband has had. However, I have scars that aren’t necessarily visible to the naked eye and I have medical conditions that are unknown to most people. So, God bless you! Take care.

  17. Love this. I had an aneurysm rupture – I have realized so many times how very very lucky I was. God was so looking out for me through my experience – the aneurysm had ruptured in a place that didn’t cause too much damage and it took almost a full month before I had coiling put in. A couple of centimeters up and I would not be here today.

    Thank you for this beautiful piece of writing.

    • I always try to remember that when you encounter people – everyone has a story and scars. It can be difficult but if we all thought about people this way – maybe the world would be a different place.

    • I am so grateful you are here to share your story with us, Josie. Our family knows well how dangerous aneurysms are. My uncle, only in his 20’s, died from one after it ruptured. You are blessed! And I couldn’t agree more, our world would be a different place if people thought about the scars and stories of others.

  18. Wonderful post Jennifer and such encouraging words from the commenters as well. I have a physical disability that is not visible and includes severe pain issues. My husband now has pulmonary fibrosis (lungs) that is not visible until he begins to cough or is wearing his oxygen. When we park in handicapped spots people tend to do that glare thing from time to time. We have learned to smile and bless their day, which also blesses our day. Instead of a sign on our foreheads that announces an unseen disability, how about love, care and compassion in big bold letters. That would make for a great day ! So….love, care and compassion to all going forward.

  19. I recently came to the awareness that I, like my father, have bipolar disorder. It’s something I’ve hated in him since before I can remember, and it feels like I’m burying myself and all my dreams. Those questions I have asked God like “Why can’t he just be normal?”, I now ask of me, and worse, know others are asking about me, too. No scars are apparent. Nothing under my hair but a defective brain that just can’t produce chemicals correctly. All I have is a trail of brokenness and hurt and fear and judgement both by others and myself. Thank God I have a husband who is loyal and protective of me. Thank God. I want to be that gentle person. No matter how much i know of God, cling to His word, pray- I’ll always be bipolar. I will never know if what I’m seeing is real or just real to me. Mental illness. It has such a hopeless sound. I pray The Lord surrounds me with people who are better than me about handling life and loving others.

    • I am sorry, Denise. Sorry this illness is something you dealt with growing up and now endure yourself. I am so grateful to hear you have such a wonderful husband to journey this with you. I pray you will be surrounded by love and compassion. Thank you for being brave and sharing your story with us. It helps people to ‘see’ what they can’t see.

    • Denise,

      Prayers for you as you struggle with this illness. Mental illness often has no visible sings, but can be hard to live with. Praise God He has blessed you with a wonderful, understanding husband!!

      May God work a miracle in your life and give you the hope and life you deserve! I pray you can get help either with medication or psychiatry.

      My prayers are with you and your family!

      Blessings 🙂

  20. This spoke to me today. Thank you so much!! I struggle with fibromyalgia and while I don’t appear to be “sick” I very much am. I wrestle with severe pain on a daily basis. What also comes along with this is brain fog, which sometimes makes things slow to process, along with extreme fatigue. Many people sadly still think this is a fake illness. WHY would anyone want to fake these horrid symptoms? Through strangers eye, (and some family members) I might appear lazy, stupid and a little overweight. God sees me as His own perfect daughter. This is why I hold on to.
    Please accept my thanks to you and your husband for his sacrifice to our country. His service in the Army is appreciated more Han most people can fathom, and my humble thanks is not nearly enough!
    Lisa

    • I am sorry you are dealing with such a difficult illness, Lisa. It is so sad that people judge what they don’t understand. Praying that more people will see with love and compassion what you have to go through. Praying for your health. You are His perfect daughter! My husband is grateful for your gratitude for his service. Thank you.

  21. Lovely post! Yes, I have had experiences that changed my lens. Walking through one right now as we learn to find a new normal with my mother and the dementia that is rapidly taking the woman we know and love. It is hard, and painful. BUT GOD is faithful.

    • Leah,

      I am right there with you. I feel your pain and anguish as you watch your mother slowly fade away. May God give you the strength, patience and endurance you need to deal with this sad illness. I pray you can get some help–maybe with a local hospice.

      I went through the same thing with my mom. She had a little dementia and then after 1.5 months of hospitalization and rehab she came home with sundowners. It was 2 years of complete bed rest and watching her slowly fade away was hard. We were lucky to get hospice to come in and help out. They were wonderful! It was super hard to watch her slowly fade away. Her death was a relief for me as I knew it would only get worse and dad couldn’t keep taking 24/7 care of her.

      Blessings and prayers 🙂

  22. I cried all the way thru reading this..once again later this month my husband heads into surgery..again..for a arm he has had taken off,bone graphed,bolts put in and put back on..17 dislocations and after a bad fall at work we have another lengthy surgery this month. your wifes heart inspired me..thankyou its never easy and others don’t fully understand things but thankfully god does !!

    • I am so sorry you have to go through that, Polly. It is so hard to see someone we love go through so much, isn’t it? God does understand and He gives us that strength we need to be a loving and compassionate wife! I will be praying for your husband… and you!

      • thankyou very much !!! no it isn’t easy to be the wife who has to help and care and just do a lot..at the end of the day sometimes its just easy enough to pray and let hope rise in us..Gods never far away even in all this.

  23. In our family we have had to see our daughter’s life through a different lens. She would have been married 22 years this January, Her husband died 6 years ago from brain cancer. He had alot of health problems starting with juvenile diabetes. Because of this his kidneys stopped working and he had a kidney/pancreas transplant. This helped for a few years but the medicine he took for the transplant gave him brain cancer which finally took his life. My daughter adopted a beautiful little girl while she was married and had to take care of this baby while she took care of her sick husband while she worked and went to college. She is amazingly strong. She did not dream of this life but it was her life. She has come through it still enjoying life. She is not a Christian and she used to be and we have had to let go of our expectations of our dreams for her and let God have the reins. It is hard and sad to see your only child have such heartaches and not be able to help. This post resonates so much because our daughter has found beauty in seeing through the lens of a camera for beauty in her life. We pray for her and our granddaughter that they will come closer to God again.
    Our job now is to let God protect her and lead her. May your life with your husband lead you to a better understanding of God and His ways.

    • It is never what we plan, is it, Chris? What a journey your daughter has had to go through. And the strength He had to provide to get her through. What a wonderful gift for her to find beauty through the lens of a camera. I will be praying her and your granddaughter will journey back to Him! The love you have for them is beautiful.

  24. Like many others, this sense of protection for your husband is much the same as mine. My husband has had different health problems, but also quite serious. He is not who he was before his illness, and likely will not be. I love him very much and treasure each moment of being able to communicate and spend time with him.

    Thank you so much for sharing your heart and different lens.

    • It takes strength and such love to make it through changes like that, Joni. Seeing the person you love become someone different because of an illness. It is beautiful to know you treasure each of those moments with the man God made your husband.

  25. What a blessing for your husband to have you by his side Jennifer.

    I’ve come to realize that scars, physical or not are something we should be proud of because they are part of our survival. Like your husband he is a survivor and his survival is helping to remind us of humanity through your post….

    Thank-you and to the other posters you too are survivors

    Thanks for sharing this very inspiring message

  26. Jennifer, this is one of the most beautiful love ‘stories’ I have ever heard. Touched my heart so much especially since you are a diabetic. I see your love and compassion in your art often and your words are just as gifted and moving. Thank you!

  27. Big hugs Jen. You are such a loving and encouraging Daughter of God. Hugs to your hubs too!

  28. This post made me cry. In a good way. Tears of compassion for your husband and others on similar journeys and tears of thankfulness for hearts like yours. Hearts that see Jesus in the wounded and hearts that breathe Jesus to the wounded. Hugs to you sweet friend!

  29. I’m so saddened yet so elated reading this story. A woman from our church had a brain aneurysm and died quickly. I’m elated that he was able to have that massive surgery that saved, though changed, his and your lives. Sad the way people make judgments. I often wonder if invisible wounds, disabilities, inner wounds, etc. are harder than visible ones. I am one of a family with invisible disabilities. No one looking at my 29 year old son can tell he has autism. Interacting with him, people often give the strangest looks, looks I could never have imagined. I suspect you go through the same. I have numerous diseased, deformed spinal segments that extend into the sacro-iliac, pelvic regions. My bones are very brittle and I’m a high fall risk, so a high fracture risk. There are more invisible illnesses that when combined in one body require that body to use a wheelchair if out, say, to shop. I won’t get into the other two. People are so cruel. Downloaded your printable verse. Maybe I’ll hang it on my door instead of a wreath….

    • I am sorry for the invisible disabilities your family has to deal with, Janet. And I am so sorry people are cruel. Praying people around you will be more compassionate. Praying you feel His peace and love surround you. Happy to hear you are using the printable!

  30. Yes and yes. My husband had a brain injury 11 years ago and I often say that I am now living with husband #2 because of the changes in his personality. There have been many challenges, but I am so thankful that God has been faithful to give me strength.
    There have been many times in the last couple of years, as I have faced some challenges in my own life, that I have longed for others to just try to understand the inner me, instead of just focusing on surface stuff. Your words were powerful.

    • I hear you, Lyn. Only by God’s faithfulness in giving us strength can we get through this! Praying those around you are loving and compassionate and see the inner you. You are loved. You are not alone.

  31. Jennifer, am moved by the compassion love and friendship found in you. I give thanks for you. In His word is your surety. This is so clear by yourdaily posts . It makes one feel less alone when brave ones share their journey.

  32. When I was in in my teens and 20s, I was super critical of people who didn’t “live up” to what I thought they should. A cousin, who is just a few months younger than me, struggled (and still struggles with drug addiction). While I called myself a Christian I was quite judgmental of her. Years later, I had a disappointment (that I’m still not quite over) that brought me to my knees. I spiraled into a pit and didn’t even know what to call it. Depression? On a business trip, my husband found me sobbing on the bathroom floor a beautiful hotel in Prague. Neither he nor I could understand. At that moment, had someone handed me a pill or a syringe or just about anything I would have taken it if I thought it would take the pain away. Ever since that day, I am no longer the harsh critic of others that I once was. Life is hard. I don’t intend to make it harder for someone with my judgement.

  33. Love is kind. i’ve been thinking about that a lot this week. When the best thing I can offer to someone is kindness.. and how that should come first. This is such a true and honest post! Thank you for sharing your heart! I think you are wonderful! 🙂
    Frances

  34. Jennifer,

    Thank you for being so transparent, open and honest! My prayers for comfort, peace and contentment as you endure daily trials!!

    This year has been tough for me in many different ways. My aging dad moved into assisted living, had medication issues and ended up in hospital/rehab. Finally readjusted and content in assisted living. Through all that I worked a stressful job that I don’t like anymore. Added in the mixture my hubby almost lost his job of 26 years. Thankfully and prayerfully he did not, but is working a shift that we don’t care for and back in a busy ER. God kept us safe through all this and has blessed me and made me stronger!

    My prayers for everyone here!! Reading these posts brought tears to my eyes. I pray God will bless everyone with patience, peace and contentment. God never promised us an easy life, but one with trials. These trials should make us stronger and learn more on God!

    Father God,

    Bless everyone here today! Please give them your peace and contentment!! Shower them with your love and grace!

    AMEN! 🙂

    • You are so right, Beth, those trials do make us stronger! You have a wonderful attitude that is an encouragement to all of us. Thank you so much for sharing! Such a beautiful prayer, thank you. Praying for you and your family!

  35. Oh my, how timely. I’ve been thinking about you and David as our caretakers. What you live daily for us. I wanted to write about caretakers this week and here you are.

    I needed this so much. Yes, yes, yes. Your questions resonate my soul. My health diagnosis changed everything. We had 7 years to prepare by the time we got the news. But, it still changes how I live everyday knowing it’s a lifelong change. No cure, no treatment. Just is.

    The need for gentleness and kindness from others is so great. Ah, you have me crying now. Thank you for meeting that need for your husband, for me.

  36. Oh Jenn what a beautiful and amazing story of grace and the true love of Christ……thank you so much for sharing this. In the near future I will have to have some life changing surgery that will make me rely completely on my Hubby for everything for about a year. What an encouragement you are and a blessing to share your heart and life with us. I am so thankful for you and so blessed to have met you sweet friend. I will be praying for you and your Husband and for others in your life to approach him with the same love that you show to everyone. Blessings to you both……

    • Thank you so much for your thoughtful words, Charlotte. So grateful you will have someone to rely on after your surgery. It is a gift to know you have the compassion and love you need. Praying for you as your journey takes you on this big change in your life! Praying those around you are gentle as you recover!

  37. So beautifully said, Jennifer. I don’t know that I ever knew the full story, just some from when you did the 31 day marriage series…I hope he feels honored at your words here, for they are truly gentle, uplifting, encouraging! Blessings to you, friend!

  38. Hello, I am a Christian mother of three. I have a daughter who is autistic and non-verbal. I am her voice, her advocate, her caregiver. I have struggled with depression most of my life but I lost my job in January and I have hit a new low. I have no income and we are in desperate need of help. I really need my medicine and I have to have gas to get my daughter to doctors and therapies. I pray so hard everyday and I know The Lord hears my cries. I have no relief at this point. If someone will please follow the link, read my story, donate if you can, and help me get the word out I would greatly appreciate it! https://www.youcaring.com/PleasehelpJennifer